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Sammy in the Sky Hardcover – August 9, 2011

4.9 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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The Secret Life of Pets: The Deluxe Junior Novelization (Secret Life of Pets) by David Lewman
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Editorial Reviews

Review

This timeless story, told in straightforward prose, is brought to life in textured, soft-edged watercolor paintings in a predominant palette of blue, green, and gold. The feelings of the protagonist and the playful personality of the dog are palpably rendered in their facial expressions and body language. A generous trim size, universal subject appeal, and striking artwork.
—School Library Journal (starred review)

Warm, emotional tale, replete with comfort and acceptance, this secular selection is a strong choice for a child dealing with death for the first time.
—Kirkus Reviews

About the Author

Barbara Walsh is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who has worked for newspapers and magazines in Florida, Massachusetts, Maine, and Ireland. Sammy in the Sky was inspired by her family's first dog, Sam, a loyal and loving hound who died in 2003. She is also the author of August Gale: A Father and Daughter's Journey into the Storm, an adult biography and memoir book. Barbara Walsh lives in Maine with her family and their coonhound, Jack, a rescue dog from Tennessee.


Jamie Wyeth is an internationally known painter, illustrator, and dog lover. When he was a boy he endlessly sketched his family dog and has continued to portray animals in his work throughout his life. He has illustrated two previous picture books, THE STRAY and CABBAGES AND KINGS. Jamie Wyeth, son of painter Andrew Wyeth and grandson of illustrator N. C. Wyeth, splits his time between Maine and Pennsylvania.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 740L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick; First Edition edition (August 9, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0763649279
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763649272
  • Product Dimensions: 10.2 x 0.4 x 11.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #444,885 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
As a grief counselor, I work with people of all ages who have loved and lost. Whether it be a person or a pet, loss through death can bring most of us to our knees. This book is not just for children. This book speaks to anyone who has known the feeling in the pit of their stomach when someone they love, is suddenly gone. The union of Barbara Walsh and Jamie Wyeth expressing what we will all feel at one time or another, is healing beyond words. I will use this book with young and old alike, and feel confident that it will be a companion for all who grieve for many years to come.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a story about losing someone that you dearly love. In this case it is a dog named Sammy. He is the best friend of the unnamed little girl who is the central character in the story. And, because she is unnamed, it is easier for the reader to imagine themselves as her in the story. She is every child that has ever loved a dog.

Your are instantly captured by Sammy's eyes in the illustration on the first page as the girl tells us why Sammy is "the best hound dog in the whole world". Then, as we transition into his illness, we discover just how important Sammy is as a member of their family. Everyone is affected by his illness and his loss. But, out of the grief comes an understanding that his most important contribution was his love and the memories that they shared. Those remain forever!

Every reader will likely shed a tear for Sammy. It is a book that can both teach and sustain family stories of other beloved pets. It is a story that feels authentic and will ring true to anyone who has counted their pet as a "family member".

The illustrations by Jamie Wyeth raise the story telling in this book. These illustrations are of the level found in an "art book" but are such a great match with the story they support it rather than compete with it. Overall, just a truly wonderful story for anyone who has loved a pet at some time during their life.

This story is as important as "Bridge to Terabithia" in dealing with the subject of death but covers a much wider age range. It can be read and understood by an early reader on their own or read by an adult to help them understand (or prepare for) the loss of a beloved pet. It is a book that any parent or grandparent should have in their arsenal of great books to help in the raising of a child. I fully expect that it will be nominated for a Newbery and/or Caldecott award.
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Format: Hardcover
I am not a fan of books about pet death that end with the whole family replacing their beloved pet with a new one. I think it does a disservice to the grief process. I am a fan of books showing the love and memories we will always have when a pet passes. This is why I loved Sammy in the Sky so much. It doesn't take the easy way out. It helps kids to focus on all the wonderful special moments pets bring to our lives. It teaches kids to remember them in their hearts. "All I knew was that I loved Sammy and Sammy loved me." It's about love.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
We're dealing with the impending loss of a family dog who has been with us longer than my son has been alive, and this is a wonderful, non-religious book that is helping him talk about his feelings and ask questions. I appreciate the sensitivity but also the honesty with which the book deals with a very painful subject and that it shows the kids dealing with their grief instead of running out any getting another pet. I definitely recommend this book for families of young children.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I gave Sammy in the Sky to an adult friend who recently lost her beloved golden retriever. She took it home, read it and cried. When I saw her again she said her mother had read it and wept, and so had everyone she showed the book to. Sammy in the Sky is a cathartic and healing book and goes way beyond helping just children to cope with grief and loss. I recommend it highly.
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Format: Hardcover
The dog has a name, Sammy. But the young narrator -- boy or girl -- doesn't have a name. This helps each young listener or reader imagine that he or she is Sammy's special friend. Since grief is universal, we all can feel the pathos in this story. The artwork is right-on in that it conveys the mood and love in this story. It is mostly in gold, green and blue blends; that has a somber effect on the listener/reader.

The prose, too, is simple and effective. It doesn't suggest much action except that of the heart. Then what the family does to celebrate the joy that his dog brought to their lives is priceless and tender.
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Format: Hardcover
Sammy is the best hound dog in the world. When Sammy gets sick and dies, the family mourns his loss and remembers Sammy by doing things Sammy had always loved.

A surprising amount of text on each page for a picture book. Big, beautiful paintings on every page.

"'Can't Sammy come back?' I asked Daddy. `Just for a little while?'

Daddy shook his head. `You'll have to remember him in your heart,' he said."
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Sammy in the Sky," based on the true story, is a beautiful, well-written story that allows children to explore the death of a beloved pet, often the first loss they experience. It in no way "talks down" to kids -- the writing is simple enough for them to understand but appropriate for animal lovers of all ages. Don't we all wonder where our faithful animal companions go when they pass on? And the illustrations by Maine artist Jamie Wyeth are stunning. Filled with warm memories of Sammy chasing bubbles, protecting has family... a great gift for anyone. I bought two copies; one for me and one for my Sunday school class, where we used it as the basis for a gentle discussion.

Bought this book after reading Barbara Walsh's great family memoir, "August Gale."
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